Lost Plants :-(

I came back from a lovely long weekend visiting with my family in Maine to find that I’d lost most of the new plants I added this spring!  While the weather was cool and pleasant on the coast of Maine, it was brutally hot here.  Even with the drip hoses zigzagging over the bed, it was just too much for them.  The south-facing street bed lost the two Trailing Arbutus (again!), the newly added Labrador Violets, the Shrubby Five-Finger (shown in the May what’s in bloom photos), and maybe the May Apple.  Who knows, some of these may return next year, one can always hope.

Note to self: time to get another soaker hose and zigzag more densely on this bed!

The fern and thick bunch of Waldenstenia that I’d added under the Dawn Redwood (admittedly a tough spot) also seem to be gone, though I’m watering them like crazy now, hoping they may not be totally lost.


Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day (GBBD) – May 15

The blogger from May Dreams Garden blog started the tradition of “Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day” on the 15th of every month.  I like the idea of recording what’s in bloom in my garden on a regular basis, but have somehow always missed the 15th.  This time, I managed to get outside, camera in hand!

Hover over any photo to see what it is.  Click on a photo to view them in slideshow mode.

Creating a New Wildflower Bed

Last year I dug out and moved two large plants – one of the kiwi vines along the driveway fence, and the small Japanese Maple out front, in the sidewalk bed.  These were major transplanting efforts, and I’m happy to report that the Japanese Maple is doing well in its new home.  (The kiwi went to another gardener via Craigslist, so no report there.)  Both plants needed to go, for different reasons, but they left big gaps behind!

The front sidewalk bed is a bit tricky – south-facing, but shaded by the city’s Norway Maple in the sidewalk and the blue spruce on the west side,  sloping, and with tree roots throughout.  When I inherited it, there was a hydrangea and holly against the cement wall, and lots of hostas and Stella D’Oro lillies.  I’ve been gradually taking them out, adding coral bells and barren strawberries to reliably fill in spaces, and experimenting to find out what else will work.

The star this spring is the Zizia aptera (Heart-leaf Alexander) to the right.  I planted it in 2007, and this spring it’s filling out beautifully!  I’ve found a few small Alexander seedlings nearby, and hope that they will grow up in the years to come.

Further up the slope, I’ve just added Virginia Bluebells, and then the Goatbeard (Aruncus diocus) – a small scraggly thing last year – has leafed out in and above it. If you look closely, you can see that the Virginia Bluebell has a pretty pattern of starting with tiny violet-pink buds that then open into blue flowers.


And here is a foam flower , looking lovely right now, near one of the deep reddish-purple coral bells.  The large flowered bellwort behind it is no longer in bloom here, but is doing well.  I divided it last year, and am delighted to see it flourishing here.

It’s not looking bare any more!

2012, 2011 and 2010 Dates for Early Spring Arrivals

Our cherry tree is in full bloom now, March 23, 2012.  In 2011, the cherry tree came into full bloom around April 22.  In 2010, peak date was April 4.

The first crocuses appeared on February 19 this year.  In 2011, they showed up around March 17.  I don’t have records for 2010.

From these two data points, it looks like 2012 is about a month ahead of 2011, but perhaps only 10 days or two weeks ahead of 2010.  I’ll track the early native flowers in the next few weeks and see if this pattern holds true.

May 2, 2012 update: The Shooting Stars are at their peak now, just about two weeks ahead of their peak in 2011.  Maybe the cooler, rainy weather of the last couple of weeks has slowed down the spring arrivals!  Alas, my Pasque Anemone has not flowered this year.  My guess is that dividing it last year took away the flowers this year.  I do have a new plant under the plum tree, and the original patch, so I’m hopeful I’ll have blooms next spring.

Moving the Japanese Maple

We finally moved the Japanese Maple, out of my own little patch of garden and into one of our common garden areas (I live in a cohousing community, where there are both individual and common gardens).  My husband loves Japanese Maples, so this is a little bit sad.

So why did we move it?  It was first planted here before I live in this townhouse, by the original owners.  But some time later, they added a blue spruce to the corner (there’s a story about that tree, but some other time).  The blue spruce has now taken over the corner, and the Japanese Maple, which had some afternoon sun and room to spread, now has neither.  I’ve been pruning it back every year, trying to make it fit into the increasingly small space, but it’s time to make a change.  Just in time, my gardening neighbors decided to move a beautiful viburnum bush from the middle of a partly sunny bed out in our front lawn area, leaving a nice spot for a small spreading tree.

It took us over two weeks to get the Japanese Maple to release its hold in this part of the earth – we went out and spaded around it every few days, slowly loosening it and separating it from the entangled roots in the area.  When we finally got it out and moved it over to its new home, I realized just how much smaller it is than a similar Japanese Maple planted in that area at about the same time, some 10 – 12 years ago.  Our tree is maybe one third the size of that tree – a sign that it really needs to be in a space with more room to grow.  I’m glad we moved it, as hard as it was.

Now it’s time to start re-arranging plants in my front sidewalk garden…

The Evolving Spring Garden

Last week, the front garden really came into its own.  This bed faces south, so it gets a head start on the rest of my garden patches (and it needs the head start, since the city’s maple tree will soon be shading it).  These pictures are from April 30, 2011.

I love the way different plants emerge and transform every day, almost in front of my eyes.  In fact, this is the time is the time of year when I spend long moments outside just looking.  I am often teased by my neighbors who ask me “Are you praying over your plants?” or “Do you think they will come up faster if you watch them?” and so on.  Looking back now on the pictures of the first crocuses, it’s funny to think how excited I was then.  Then I thought they were gorgeous, now I think they look so scraggly and bare!

Here’s a close-up photo, where you can see more individual plants.  The bulbs – grape hyacinth, mini narcissus and a few purple and purple-tinged white tulips- provide most of the colors at this time of the year.  The heuchera, deep red and green versions, have leafed out now.  There’s a beautiful large-leafed clover that arrived on its own this spring, and I’ve decided it’s not a weed.  In the top right, you can see the few hostas and an astilbe that I have left in for now, until I can establish more shade-loving, dry-tolerant natives.  And then there’s lots of day lily greens – mostly these are Stella D’Oro that were here when I started.

We do have snow in April in Boston in many years, but when this variety emerges, I know the winter is really over.

Plant Purchases at the New England Wildflower Society – April 2011

I’ve been feeling a bit blue this April, a time of year when we often go on some kind of family adventure, but it’s not in the cards for this year.  So my husband suggested a consolation prize: a plant-buying expedition at the New England Wildflower Society.  The Garden in the Woods only opened on April 14, and I wasn’t sure if we’d find many plants for sale, but we did!  To be sure, they were light on the shrubs which are still mostly bare twigs and therefore not very attractive to potential buyers.  On the other hand, there were many beautiful small plants and early wildflowers that are inspiring at this time of year.  I love going to NEWFS at different times of the year, and being able to see both a different selection and different phases of familiar plants.  You can tell how good my experience with their plants have been – I bought two “plants” that actually haven’t emerged.  We joked that they could have a great business just selling potting soil with plant labels (not really).

So here’s what I got:

Two more bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’)  plants, another one for the front sloping bed, where I hope to start taking out the Stella D’Oro lillies, and one to try on the deck.  This is obvious – why haven’t I planted bearberry on the deck so far?  It is perfectly suited to the deck conditions, and should be a fantastic addition year-round.  It does mean I have to move around some plants to make room for it (but that’s one of my favorite pastimes).

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) for the shady bed under the kiwi vine and dogwood tree in the side garden.  The NEWFS staff warned me this may be a bit of a thug, and this is an area that needs kind of a thuggy shade loving plant, even the heuchera have been slow here, and it is bounded on all sides by the stone wall, brick path or lumber steps.

Trailing Arbutus (epigaea repens).  This is the Massachusetts state flower, and I’ve never even heard of it!

Canadian windflower (Anemone canadensis L.).  This is another shade-loving plant with a reputation for being aggressive.  I’m planning to put it in the dogleg with the Mayapple, and under the dwarf plum on the deck (in a container).  I’m hoping it will help to fill in these areas.